A new mayor, a new budget and solicitations for a new City Council member were the results of a Tuesday City Council meeting.
Councilwoman Kristin Lambert was appointed to fill the unexpired term of Mayor Bob Roberts, who resigned one week ago, citing a lack of harmony between himself and the council over proposed tax increases. Roberts had served 2 1/2 years of his four-year term.The council accepted Roberts' resignation Wednesday and named Lambert acting mayor, indicating the process of choosing a replacement to serve the rest of Roberts' term could take several weeks. But within a few days of that action it was clear among the four council members that a mayor should be chosen from among the City Council ranks, Lambert said Tuesday. The council met behind closed doors for 30 minutes Tuesday to discuss the possible candidates for the job, but when they emerged and unanimously named Lambert to the position, it appeared their decision had been made for some time.
Reading from prepared remarks, Lambert said, "I never anticipated being mayor, yet I feel the past 2 1/2 years have prepared me for it."
West Jordan's form of government, with a full-time city manager and a part-time mayor, makes government operations such that "Any council member can easily make the change to mayor, and the city doesn't skip a beat in the process," she said.
The council then named Councilman Dave Plouzek to serve as mayor when Lambert is called away from city business.
Lambert was required to vacate her council seat because of the appointment, leaving the post open to individuals interested in filling the final 1 1/2 years. Kevin Ellis, chairman of the city's master plan committee, and Penny Atkinson, a member of the West Jordan Arts council, attended Tuesday's meeting and said they both plan to apply for the council seat.
The council voted to accept applications from residents who are registered voters until 5 p.m. July 6 and announce an appointment July 12.
Lambert said individuals interested in the position have already been calling city officials asking how to apply.
Once the personnel issues for the evening were settled, the council quickly perused a list of potential budget cuts then completed the budget process for the fiscal year that begins July 1 by cementing the general fund, enterprise and internal service funds, and setting an Oct. 1 date for the implementation of a 6 percent utility franchise tax and the simultaneous elimination of a retail license fee, nicknamed the West Jordan sales tax.
The budget includes 3 percent raises for city employees and retains three firefighter positions that were previously scheduled for elimination. One vacant police officer position will not be filled to help pay the salaries of the three firefighters; and a building inspector, planner and several part-time positions were eliminated.
The council voted 4-1 one week ago to increase the city's property tax levy 40 percent. The city will conduct an August 4 public hearing on the tax increase proposal before voting on the tax hike Aug. 9.
City Manager Ron Olson said the total average cost of the increases would be $5.97 per month to the owner of a $67,000 home. A tentative budget scrapped by the council called for a much higher property tax increase, about 73 percent, but it would actually have carried a lower net increase to homeowners because the proposal also called for the elimination of a $4.20 per month storm sewer fee that was retained in the budget approved Tuesday.